Making Your Way: My Advice to Young Women Starting Out
I was on a panel discussion today for Girl Starter today entitled “It’s a Man’s World: Women at the Top in Male-Dominated Industries.” The moderator asked what it takes to “make it” (besides hard work and talent).
The Cheers theme song, “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got,” began to play in my head. Any of us who have started our own businesses, led an organization, managed a team, innovated, raised money or been successful, however you define success, knows, it takes more than everything you’ve got. In order to stack the deck in your favor, you really need a team. My best advice to young women is to find these five people and bring them into your life and onto your personal team.
- A Champion – Your champion is the person who advocates for you, recommends you for a new job or promotion and keeps an eye out for opportunities, both big and small, that have your name on them.
- A Mentor – Your mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor with whom you develop a long-term mutual relationship.
- A Coach – Your coach helps you work to develop certain skills, prepare for transitions and/or tackle specific challenges during finite periods of time.
- A Network – Your network is comprised of people you actually know. It is not all the people to whom you are connected on LinkedIn. It is the people you would feel comfortable reaching out to and those to whom you would respond if they reached out to you.
- A Cheerleader – Your cheerleader is the person who believes in you and helps quell any inner voice of self-doubt and negativity. It is possible that your champion, mentor or coach could also be your cheerleader, but maybe not.
Even with your “dream team” in place and all the hard work in the world, there is one missing piece: the Strategic Planning of You! It is critical to schedule time with yourself to check- in and map out your next 5 years. Start by taking a holistic look at your life. Where are you at? Are you feeling energized and excited about your work? Are you best using your talents in a meaningful way? Are you happy in your personal life? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What opportunities exist? What threats loom? What are your priorities personally? What are you priorities professionally? How do the different spheres of your life work together? What is your vision for your future self? And most importantly, how are you going to realize your vision? How is what you are doing now and what you plan to do next moving you closer to achieving your dreams?
My advice to women – and men – is that success is not accidental. Be intentional. Plan to succeed – especially in a male dominated world – by assembling your team and charting your course.
Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is founder and principal of Fridman Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, financial resource development, governance and leadership coaching for mission driven organizations. She is a frequent speaker, trainer, workshop presenter and facilitator. Nanette is the author of “On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service.”